The Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) chick picked up by Gloria Seow and raised by me since 18th March 2008 was keenly aware of its surroundings. Whenever it heard bird calling from the garden, it fluttered excitedly around its cage trying to get out.
Obviously it was about to fledge. Its wing feathers were fully developed; it regularly exercised its wings, flapping and stretching them; and it had begun to actively preen its feathers.
In an effort to encourage it to feed itself, I stopped hand-feeding it and left some food inside the cage. Out of hunger it finally pecked at the food after about an hour or so.
Encouraged by its ability to feed itself, I took it out of its cage on 21st March and placed it on a low branch of a tree (left). It remained there for the next two hours until I tried to return it to its cage. Moving from branch to branch, it finally jumped down and ran from one end of the garden to the other.
Finally cornered, it took shelter inside a small patch of low growth selaginella. Crouching low and remaining dead-still within the patch, even when I was physically parting the plants, I nearly overlooked it. But it was there all right, a still black blob not moving an inch.
Its loud screeching when handled attracted the attention of a pair of adult Javan Mynas that flew in to investigate.
The bird remained inside the cage for another day after which I again tried to set it free. Leaving the cage about a metre and a half from the ground with the door opened (left top), the bird took about half an hour before it finally realised that freedom was a few centimeters away.
Jumping onto the open door (left middle), it immediately flew off towards the nearby branched (left bottom). I was sure that it landed on the branches but apparently I was wrong. It was nowhere on the small tree. It must have landed on the ground and ran off.
I failed to locate it after a thorough search of the garden. Knowing its ability to remain still and blend in with its surroundings, I realised the futility of locating the fledgling.
My only hope is that it does not end up inside the neighbour’s cat.
When Gloria heard what happened to the chick, she wrote: “… its OK if you can’t find it. We will have to assume that it flew away and is a happy and free bird now. I’m just glad that it has begun to peck (eat) on its own without you having to stuff food into its mouth… so I’ll presume that it can start hunting for its own food.
“Anyway, flight is instinctive, so I believe that if it is a healthy bird, it should be able to outfly any cat. Hopefully though, the bird will return to your garden somehow… or hang around your estate… so that you can monitor if it has any attachment to your home at all, and any strange behaviour in relation to this man-bird relationship ecology.”
Well, the bird has yet to return. And it has been more than two weeks now. At the advanced age it was picked up, it would not be tame enough to return after release. Hopefully, it is now moving around with other Javan Mynas.